Read how to make the most of your safety meetings, so your workers learn and retain health and safety information.
Workplace health and safety training starts on the first day of work, with an orientation for new workers. It’s a regulatory requirement — part of an overall health and safety program.
I wrote about this in my recent post Young and new workers need site-specific safety training. Employers are responsible for ensuring that workers are prepared for the job before they start working.
But it doesn’t end there. WorkSafeBC’s webpage Training & orienting workers states that the most important part of training is following up. Observe workers to check that they’re still following safe work procedures. Provide ongoing safety training. A great way to do that is to communicate specific health and safety issues to workers through informal discussions or crew talks.
Keep meetings short and frequent, and focus on a single topic
“Crew talks should be scheduled regularly, with additional talks held whenever there is a change in work processes or if there is a new crew,” says Angelique Prince, manager of WorkSafeBC’s Certification Services. “The most effective worker training is short and frequent.”
She says it’s important to cover just one topic in a meeting, and state it clearly, so everyone understands the focus. For example, a topic could be one protective device, one control measure, one recent incident related to your industry, or one safety work practice.
“It’s important that the topic and the examples you use are meaningful and relevant to your workers. If you want your workers to wear goggles rather than normal safety glasses, have them available for show and tell.
To decide on a topic, think of repeated problems at your worksite, your workers’ needs and opinions, day-to-day occurrences, and your own experiences,” Angelique says.
Engage workers in safety training
Angelique adds that we learn more when we have the opportunity to think and actively participate: “The more you involve your workers in the presentation, the more they will learn and retain.”
Here are some of Angelique’s suggestions for involving workers:
- Ask open-ended questions that draw out information from your workers.
- Use demonstrations and have someone or the group take part in them.
- Answer spoken and unspoken questions, such as: What does it mean to me? What do you want me to do? What’s in it for me?
- Conduct short problem-solving activities, brainstorming sessions or exercises.
Thanks to Angelique for sharing her knowledge about effective health and safety training.
Do you have suggestions on giving informal safety talks at work? Let me know in the comments.